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This Hour: Latest Massachusetts news, sports, business and entertainment

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ABORTION BUFFER ZONE

Governor signs new Massachusetts abortion clinic security bill, weeks after high court ruling

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill designed to tighten security around abortion clinics in Massachusetts.

Wednesday's signing comes a little more than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2007 state law that established a protest-free 35-foot "buffer zone" around the entrances to abortion clinics.

The House and Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to the bill that will allow police to disperse protesters who are substantially impeding access to a clinic. Those individuals will have to stay at least 25 feet from the clinic's entrances for up to eight hours.

Abortion opponents have said they would head back to court if the proposal became law.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said the bill protects the rights of protesters and women seeking health services and will withstand any constitutional challenge.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILL

Massachusetts lawmakers weigh PAC disclosure bill

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing a final, compromise bill designed to tighten reporting requirements for independent political expenditures, including those made by political action committees known as super PACs.

Under the bill, corporations, labor unions and political committees would be required to file a campaign finance report within seven days of making an independent expenditure - or within 24 hours if the expenditure is made within 10 days of an election.

The bill also doubles the amount an individual could donate to a candidate in a calendar year from $500 to $1,000.

Critics have faulted a portion of the bill that would require that voter guides mailed out by the state secretary's office include a statement explaining the fiscal impact of each ballot question on local and state government budgets starting in 2015.

SKAKEL APPEAL

Kennedy cousin Skakel: Spending time with family

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel says he's spending as much time as he can with family as he awaits a new trial in his murder case.

Skakel arrived Wednesday at Stamford Superior Court for a hearing on a motion seeking to keep the government from using certain evidence at his trial.

Asked if he was spending time with his family, Skakel said, "much as I can." Asked if he was enjoying his time out of prison, he said, "I wouldn't say enjoying."

Skakel, the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, was freed from prison last year after a judge ruled his trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was convicted of fatally bludgeoning Martha Moxley in Greenwich when they were both 15.

TEACHER KILLED-MASSACHUSETTS

Teen charged in teacher killing challenges law

SALEM, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts teenager charged with killing his high school math teacher is challenging the constitutionality of a state law that requires him to be tried as an adult.

Philip Chism is charged with raping and killing 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in October. He was 14 at the time.

In a motion filed Monday, defense lawyer Denise Regan argues that the state's "youthful offender" law is unconstitutional. The law requires that those 14 and over who are charged with murder must be tried as adults.

Regan asks the court to send the case against Chism, who is now 15, to Juvenile Court.

The defense cites rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the state Supreme Judicial Court that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional.

ECONOMY-GDP-MASSACHUSETTS

State economy outpaced US in 2nd quarter

BOSTON (AP) - A new report says the Massachusetts economy grew at a solid clip in the second quarter of 2014, rebounding from a weak first quarter.

The MassBenchmarks Current Economic Index said the state's unemployment rate continued to drop during the April-June period while payroll employment and consumer spending were on the rise.

The report said the state's gross domestic product grew at an estimated annual rate of 4.9 percent in the second quarter.

That would outpace the national economy, which according to the U.S. Commerce Department expanded at a 4 percent annual rate in the quarter.

MassBenchmarks, a journal published by the UMass Donahue Institute, revised downward its first quarter estimate to show the state's economy contracted by three-tenths of a point, after an earlier estimate of 2.6 percent growth in the January-March period.

PIPELINE PROTEST

Boston protesters to rally against gas pipeline

BOSTON (AP) - Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline through the western part of the state are gathering in Boston.

The protesters have been making their way across Massachusetts in recent weeks.

Wednesday's rally is scheduled to begin on Boston Common and will include landowners, state legislators, and leaders of environmental and conservation groups expected to speak. The opponents say they'll then march to the State House.

Kathryn Eiseman heads the Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network, one of the groups coordinating the "rolling rally" across the state. She said a group of about five representatives hopes to meet with Gov. Deval Patrick later in the afternoon.

Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed the $3.75 billion extension of its northeast pipeline and says will provide clean-burning natural gas to the northeast.

EAST BOSTON FIRE

Firefighters battle blaze in East Boston

BOSTON (AP) - A six-alarm fire in the East Boston neighborhood has been brought under control.

Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn says residents are safe and accounted for after the blaze, which started at about 8:30 on Wednesday morning and involved at least two residential buildings on Sumner and Webster Streets.

One firefighter was hurt but the injuries were not believed to be serious.

Smoke rising from the blaze could be seen for several miles over the city.

SKAKEL APPEAL

Kennedy cousin Skakel: Spending time with family

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel says he's spending as much time as he can with family as he awaits a new trial in his murder case.

Skakel arrived Wednesday at Stamford Superior Court for a hearing on a motion seeking to keep the government from using certain evidence at his trial.

Asked if he was spending time with his family, Skakel said, "much as I can." Asked if he was enjoying his time out of prison, he said, "I wouldn't say enjoying."

Skakel, the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, was freed from prison last year after a judge ruled his trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 when he was convicted of fatally bludgeoning Martha Moxley in Greenwich when they were both 15.

SHARK SAFARI-CAPE COD

Ocean safari for white sharks off Cape Cod

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) - Two marine conservation groups are offering a daylong ocean safari on Cape Cod to search for great white sharks, humpback whales, gray seals and seabirds in their wild habitat.

Organizers say the daylong ocean expedition will give residents and visitors a chance to see some of the most exciting wildlife Cape Cod has to offer.

The event is scheduled for Sept. 6. It is intended to raise funds for the nonprofit organizers - the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which is based on Cape Cod, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, which is based in Plymouth.

Three experts will join the expedition to provide information about whales, great white sharks and seabirds.

Organizers, however, say that they cannot guarantee sightings of sharks or other marine animals.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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